Who knows how school shoes get filthy so fast? More importantly, how can you get them clean and white as powdered snow without losing your mind?

Here’s the thing about white school shoes – they get dirty really quickly. Remember using chalk (when we still blackboards in classrooms) to ‘clean’ your shoes when you were in school?

If you’re already putting in the effort to send your kids to school in a neatly-pressed uniform – and you don’t want the effect to be ruined by the grubby-looking shoes they have on their feet, clean school shoes are a must. The good news? School shoes aren’t that hard to wash and clean. All it takes are the right tools, and a bit of patience.

(See also: How to Iron Singapore Kids’ School Uniforms Perfectly)


Option 1: Machine Wash

Most school shoes are made from textiles such as cotton, canvas, nylon, or polyester, so they are machine-washable. (If you are unsure as to whether your child’s shoes can be put into the washing machine, simply check the care label in the shoes.) Here’s a step-by-step guide that will walk you through how to wash shoes in your washing machine:

#1: Remove laces and loose dirt

First things first – remove the laces from your kids’ school shoes, and scrub off any loose dirt that has accumulated on the shoe. If you are in a hurry, you can skip this step – just bear in mind that you’ll be putting your washing machine through more stress if you don’t remove stray dirt prior to washing.

#2: Put shoes into a mesh laundry bag

You know how you contain your lingerie and delicate items in a mesh laundry bag before putting them into the washing machine? You should do the exact same thing for your child’s school shoes. This will result in less wear and tear for the shoes, and reduce the likelihood of the shoes getting snagged inside the drum.

Never used laundry bags before? You can buy them at hardware stores, supermarkets, Daiso, and at most dollar stores in housing estates. If you don’t have the time to pop out to get these, you can use a spare pillowcase that you are willing to ‘sacrifice’.

#3: Wash on a cool setting

Assuming your child’s’ school shoes are white, you won’t have to worry about the colours running or fading. However, you should still opt for a cooler wash setting. While there is no hard and fast rule, we would recommend going with a maximum of 30 degrees Celsius.

Why is it important to wash shoes on a cool setting? Well, subjecting your kids’ shoes to high heat can result in the glue melting; this will make the shoes more prone to breaking. Cool setting = increased longevity of school shoes… it’s as simple as that!

Also, seeing as you are not washing a full load, reduce the amount of detergent or washing powder. Depending on how dirty your kids’ school shoes are, use one-third to half the standard amount.

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#4: Skip the tumble-dry

Skip the tumble-dry option so as not to damage the shoes. You don’t want to expose the shoes to any unnecessary heat. Air-dry them instead.

What if your kids are due to go back to school the next day, and you need those shoes to dry quickly? Placing scrunched up paper towels inside the shoes will help absorb excess moisture, and speed up the drying process. In a pinch, you can also use your hairdryer (I’ve done this too!), but remember to set it to the coolest option.

(See also: Organise Everyone’s Schedules with these Fab Family Apps)

Option 2: Using Soap and Water

If you want school shoes to last as long as possible, or you feel that it’s just too icky to pop them into your washing machine where your clothes are washed, then you can wash the shoes manually. To do this, you’ll need a wash basin, soap, water, a spare cloth, and a stiff bristle brush (toothbrushes work too, but take a longer time to clean the same area).

Here’s what to do: first, fill a wash basin with warm water. Submerge the shoes in the water, place some soap on the cloth, and give the shoes a quick rub-down. If the shoes are fairly clean, this might suffice; otherwise, use the stiff bristle brush to scrub the excess dirt off the shoes. Remember to scrub the soles too.

Once you’re done, rinse the shoes thoroughly so that no soap remains. Then lay the shoes out to dry on a clean towel, and stuff them with scrunched up paper towels to hold their shape.

How do you Get Rid of Stubborn Stains on school shoes?

There are several “home remedies” that you can use to rid your kids’ school shoes of stubborn stains. These include using…

• a solution of baking soda mixed with water
• white vinegar
• rubbing alcohol (this is said to be exceptionally effective at removing pen ink)
• diluted beach (mix one part bleach with five parts water)
• a melamine sponge (also known as a “magic eraser” or “magic sponge”, available at Daiso)

If all else fails, you can also use a bottle of shoe whitener or polish or white nail polish to cover up stubborn stains or scuff marks.

School shoes will Get Dirty So…

Honestly, we’d rather our kids engage in some sort of outdoor activity rather than stay glued to their phones and mobile devices – this way, they can cultivate an active lifestyle early on. Yes, they’ll probably be traipsing home with dirty footwear, but you’re now an unofficial expert on washing school shoes, so don’t let that faze you!

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